Malcolm Netburn

New AudioMag: Malcolm Netburn on Audience Segmentation

Audience “atomization” and content distribution is something that Malcolm Netburn dug into deeply at a sold-out session at MagNet 2017.

Malcolm Netburn is the Chairman & CEO of CDS Global, part of Hearst Magazines, and the world’s largest provider of data management, marketing support services, business intelligence and consumer interaction to the magazine media industry.

“We’re going to be in a world where consumers of information are going to want it everywhere they are, at any time they are up, and in any place that they are at,” says Netburn in the latest episode of AudioMag, Magazine Canada’s podcast.

Audience segmentation within a publication is key to a publisher’s success: A readership of 100,000, Netburn estimates, should be seen as potentially being ten audiences of 10,000 readers, with publishers needing to understand the unique interests of those niche audiences within the readership.

Content Still King

While there is a lot to learn by digging into metrics and data, Netburn stresses that they key to engaging audiences is through excellent content, a notion that to some can seem a little old fashioned.

“And that’s gone out of favour as technology and data scientists seem to be the people are at the forefront,” says Netburn. “But in fact my belief is that content is king. What I mean by that is we have to deliver passionate, connected, useful, valuable, entertaining information to audiences where they want to consume more of the information we have. Whether they consume it in print, or on their phone, or on their TV screen, or by voice with Alexa or Echo, shouldn’t matter to us. We have to stop selling our content. We have to develop consumers who want to buy it.”

With excellent offerings, delivered in multiple formats across multiple platforms, Netburn foresees a time where more and more consumers will pay more for what publishers are in the business of providing.

CDS Global is moving forward more and more with the subscription model, something the magazine industry is expert in, but a subscription offering across a much broader array of products and platforms.

“Pay walls have worked for a handful of organizations like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. But I do think it’s a part of the ecosystem of delivering packages of capabilities to consumers,” says Netburn. “What I’m seeing more is if you go to the consumer and say ‘If you build an affinity with us, it might even go as far to say you might be a member with us.’ Then you can bundle things together where people aren’t thinking about a paywall at $12/month, and a podcast was $2.50 per podcast. But they’ll say ‘Hmm. I like the Netflix model where for $15/month I;m getting a whole suite of services, kind of free, in that subscription.'”

Listen to the entire conversation with Malcolm Netburn.

Find more episodes of AudioMag in our resource centre. AudioMag is available to download and subscribe on iTunes.

AudioMag is produced by Tina Pittaway, an award-winning independent writer and broadcaster. Tina has been a contributor to CBC Radio and Television for more than 20 years. Her radio documentaries have been honoured with a 2007 Gabriel Award, 2008 Amnesty International Media Award, 2009 Gold Medal at the New York Festivals and a Science in Society Award from the Canadian Science Writers’ Association. Visit Tina online to learn more about her work.

Know someone in the industry who would be interested in receiving AudioMag? Send us an email at and we’ll add them to our list. Or sign up for our RSS feeds on or on iTunes.

AudioMag is made possible with the support of the OMDC.

Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)   Logo for the Government of Canada

Magazines Canada acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, as well as the Canada Council, for this project.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *